W. Tecumseh Fitch

I have occasionally seen work by W. Tecumseh Fitch, but I just learned two important things about him:

A. He’s Sherman’s great-great-great-grandson, and

B. He put a Chinese alligator on heliox. We’ve all wondered about that, but he actually did it.

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19 Responses to W. Tecumseh Fitch

  1. Cattle Guard says:

    Wow. My friends who are into synthesizing human voices are very interested in that kind of research.

  2. This is work of great subtlety.

  3. KevinM says:

    I’m waiting for the followup for more esoteric breathing mixtures. Would alterations in the swimming media have an effect? Relative humidity? Temperature?

  4. dearieme says:

    Hang on, it’s the 13th today not the 1st.

  5. bob sykes says:

    They taste like chicken.

  6. Deckin says:

    I can’t figure out if he’s any relation to the logician Frederic Fitch. They both have connections to Yale.

  7. engleberg says:

    David Teie <a href= @ Human Music@ likes to write music in the frequencies animals hear, in rhythm to their resting/racing heartbeats and walking/running paces. For gator, munching and death-rolling paces might fit.

  8. Space Ghost says:

    The absolute madman…

  9. Cloudswrest says:

    Now for the followup. Did they play the lady gator’s heliox recordings out in the open to see if the higher pitched vocals were more attractive to the male gators? Like Japanese hostess voice.

    How about giving some male gators some sulfur hexafluoride gas to make them sound huskier. See if the lady gators go for it!

  10. Is it possible to use heliox at 10x pressure for squeezing zits via sucking rather than squashing? Would have been wonderful.

  11. savantissimo says:

    Since every gas but helium is narcotic in proportion to its molecular weight and partial pressure, including nitrogen, breathing 0.2 atm O2 + He to local pressure should make people a little smarter than they are breathing air with ~0.8 atm N2. On the other hand, increasing the partial pressure of nitrogen should depress IQ to a pretty repeatable degree, which might allow using regular IQ tests to measure high IQs by reducing ability by a calibrated amount, e.g. use nitrogen narcosis to increase choice reaction time by a proportion corresponding to two or three standard deviations, then add an equivalent number of s.d.s to the IQ score the subject gets on a standard IQ test under that level of narcosis. Without a hyperbaric chamber and several hours of decompression, nitrous oxide, xenon or some other more narcotic gas than nitrogen could be used. This should allow extending the effective range of IQ tests from the current hard ceiling of 160 (+4 s.d.) / soft ceiling of ~140 to a hard ceiling of about 200 / soft ceiling of 180.

    (More popular recreational artificial-stupidity-inducing substances probably wouldn’t be as reliable as anesthetic gasses.)

    • Are you serious about extending range of IQ tests by such method?

      • savantissimo says:

        I think it could be more accurate than current tests above 150IQ, but the market is tiny and it would be expensive to validate. Also, I’m lazy.

        The idea came from the Rasch statistical model in which the likelihood of getting a question right is the product of the easiness (inverse difficulty) of the question and the ability of the test-taker – if you can’t validate sufficiently difficult questions then reducing the ability of the test taker should have the same effect.

        I posted the idea on the Ultranet / Mega Society East mailing list back in 2005 but it didn’t get any interest, though as a +4 or +5 s.d. IQ society they should have more use for an accurate high-range test than just about anybody. I cited this paper which indicates that more g-loaded tests are more affected by nitrogen narcosis.

    • KevinM says:

      This is perhaps a dangerous course of inquiry. I think one may find rather quickly that differing allelles have differing sensitivity to such inhibitory loading. Heaven help the researcher who publishes the finding “X makes population Y especially stupid drunks”.

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